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Monday, October 27, 2008

Ecology in September,2008-or the dirty games of France

In today's edition-many but short:
  1. EU climate goals under pressure as recession looms
  2. EU ups efficiency standards for lights, televisions
  3. Truckmakers seek to avert car-style CO2 caps
  4. France wants early list of sectors exposed to 'carbon leakage'
  5. Report: EU carbon market will not raise power prices
  6. Industry groups call for binding EU energy efficiency target
  7. France pushes for leniency on car CO2 caps
  8. MEPs hail ‘defeat’ of car industry lobby on CO2
  9. Parliament deplores national resistance to sea-safety rules
I know they look many, but they are really short. The most important conclusion is that France is playing a very bad game with Germany and is finding a back-door to pass a regulation on car emissions that the Parliament voted down. That's a very dangerous game and it undermines the whole idea of having a Parliament. True, good things sooner or later get done, but why it should happen in the hard way?! I believe that with time and crisis people will prefer smaller cars that are more efficient and generally cheaper, but that will happen too slowly. The EU should have been an example-even the USA makes new regulations on the environment, why Europe can't done ONE single thing as a Union and should always cede into the hands of the Industry? That's so pathetic! On the bright side, this could lead to better regulations probably covering the other polluters in the cars. Hopefully!

EU climate goals under pressure as recession looms

26 September 2008

Poland has joined Germany in calling for industry exemptions to EU climate rules as a recession in Europe’s major economies is casting doubts on whether Brussels will be able to push through its ambitious CO2 reduction programme.

EU Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen yesterday (25 September) gave specific assurances to Poland that 100% free CO2 permit allocation “should be possible” for the country’s energy intensive industries.

Verheugen, speaking at a conference on the Competitiveness Council, repeated the Commission’s position that exemptions should not be formalised before an international climate change deal is reached in December 2009, and insisted that pushing industries out of Europe is not the aim of the EU climate package.

But Brussels’ resolve on the issue may be softening. A non-paper circulated by the Commission cites the aluminium, steel and cement sectors as "likely to be strongly affected [and] would therefore be amongst the substances likely to benefit from partial to totally free allocations" (EurActiv 22/09/08).

The growing financial crisis may also make it increasingly difficult for the Commission to justify higher operating costs for industries.

Member states are getting nervous about asking their industries to pay more for CO2 pollution, says Christian Egenhofer, a senior researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels.

Poland’s leaders in particular have been crying foul, arguing that their country’s coal dependent economy, which is still struggling to catch up with Western European economies that were allowed to emit CO2 with impunity for decades, could be severely undermined by the climate and energy package. The country's miners yesterday (25 September) marched on Brussels in direct protest of the EU's climate plans.

Polish concerns are mirrored by the three other members of the 'Visegrad Group' - Hungary, the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic - which have banded together with several of the EU's new member states to call for a revision of their national targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions (EurActiv 02/06/08). A slight delay in the adoption of the EU's climate package to March 2009 may also be necessary to ensure fairness, according to a joint statement by the Visegrad group. This is in contrast to the agenda set by the French EU Presidency, which is pushing for an adoption of the package by December 2008.

The demands of the Visegrad countries were given indirect backing at the beginning of the week (22 September) by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, meanwhile, argues that an economic slowdown should not stall the EU’s climate efforts. source

My comment: Carbon leakage is a nonsense, but I'm not at all surprised by the 3 countries that lead the protest. The are abusing the situation but even worst is that the other member-states allow that. Too bad. The just found another excuse.

EU ups efficiency standards for lights, televisions

29 September 2008

EU member states have endorsed two Commission proposals aimed at slashing the electricity consumption of electronic goods as part of the bloc's efforts to reduce energy wastage.

The regulations, approved on 26 September by a special committee of national experts (regulatory committee), will apply to office, industrial and street lighting products as well as 'set-top' boxes that convert digital TV signals into analogue signals.

If approved by the Parliament later in the year, the Commission predicts that the two measures will lead to significant energy savings. The electricity consumption of lighting equipment should be reduced by 15%, leading to savings equivalent to the annual electricity use of Romania. TV boxes, meanwhile, would use nearly three times less power by 2014, the Commission said in a statement.

The regulations are part of the implementing measures set out in the 2005 Framework Directive on Eco-design requirements for Energy-using Products (EuP), which stipulates that energy-efficiency improvements should be adopted on a product-by-product basis by a special committee of national technical experts. source

My comment: Finally. I'm glad at least this is going as scheduled. And I'm sure the Parliament will approve it, because it's good. I'm only not so sure whether it will have as quick effect as they predict, since the crisis probably will slow the trade with appliances (as everything esle).

Truckmakers seek to avert car-style CO2 caps

25 September 2008

As MEPs prepare to vote on a legislative proposal imposing caps on the CO2 emissions of new cars, the automotive industry is warning against introducing similar measures for vans and minibuses, which the Commission is planning to propose by the end of the year.

The Commission announced it would be presenting legislation on reducing the CO2 emissions of new vans and minibuses as part of a new package on 'greening transportPdf external ' presented in July.

But manufacturers are keen to show Brussels that legislation would be unnecessary by setting themselves an own-initiative target of reducing their fuel consumption (which is in direct relation to CO2 emissions levels) by 20% by 2020. "Our message is that the world can't go without trucks, vans and buses, but that we can go without emissions," said Renschler.

But he went on to stress that the new Commission initiative on vans contradicts a Brussels pledge to discuss future regulations with the industry "in a fair and cooperative manner" and that it would likely be "counter-productive".

Yet it is the automotive sector's very failure to live up to previous voluntary commitments on emissions from private passenger cars that led the Commission, in a February 2007 strategy paper, to propose binding legislation on CO2 emissions from transport in the first place.

Indeed, draft legislation on cars, presented in December 2007, asks auto manufacturers to deliver CO2 cuts of roughly 20% (from current levels of 160 grammes of C02/km to 130gr/km) by 2012.

For vans, the February 2007 strategy paper already sets "the objective of reaching 175 g/km CO2 by 2012 and 160 g/km CO2 by 2015". With current CO2 emissions for vans standing at around 200gr/km, this would represent a 20% cut by as early as 2015.

Nevertheless, the EU executive's plans for cars already look as though they could be watered down, with a key vote in the European Parliament Environment Committee set to take place today (25 September). source

My comment: It's nice producers are showing some initiative, but without commitment to do it, it won't matter. And I sincerely hope EC will vote some limits on the emission, not only of CO2, but also for all the pollutants since we'll have the great pleasure to live near motorway.

France wants early list of sectors exposed to 'carbon leakage'

25 September 2008

The French EU Presidency is stepping up calls for an early identification of sectors that could qualify for exemptions to the EU's carbon market.

A 23 September French EU Presidency working documentword , seen by EurActiv, asks EU member states to agree to put pressure on the Commission to release, by June 2009, a list of industries that could receive free CO2 emissions allowances to protect them from competition by producers operating in countries where pollution is cheaper.

France's position, which is backed by Germany, reflects the concerns of industries who say that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), due to be re-launched with stricter emissions reductions criteria as of 2013, will significantly drive up manufacturing costs. Rising costs would in turn expose the EU to 'carbon leakage', since manufacturers of energy-intensive goods like aluminium and cement would be forced to relocate their operations and emissions outside the EU's borders in order to remain internationally competitive.

The Commission is aware of these concerns and has started setting out a list of criteria for determining which sectors and sub-sectors could qualify for exemptions to the EU ETS (EurActiv 22/09/08).

But Brussels does not want to preclude the outcome of international climate talks, scheduled to wrap up in Copenhagen in December 2009, and has indicated it would publish such a list at the earliest in 2010, with specific measures to guard against carbon leakage to be proposed by 2011.

The French EU Presidency wants the Commission to put forward safeguard measures in 2010, so that Council and Parliament could make the measures law by December of that year.

Parliament, meanwhile, is also calling on the Commission to identify sectors at risk as soon as possible. But many MEPs agree that identifying sectors before December 2009 would undermine the EU's negotiating mandate and credibility in Copenhagen. source

My comment: How typical of mr. Sarkozy. France make the climate change their priority and in mean time, try to screw the international process. How nice of him! I disapprove it and I think it's very very stupid of him to do it. True, it's his style, but still...

Report: EU carbon market will not raise power prices

24 September 2008

Warnings that electricity prices may increase dramatically under new EU carbon market rules if EU power companies are obliged to obtain all of their CO2 emissions permits at auction from 2013 are not true, says a new report commissioned by green group WWF.

"The auctioning of allowances in the [EU Emissions Trading Scheme] market in 2013 and beyond is unlikely to have a material impact on power prices," says the report, prepared by New Carbon Finance, a carbon-market consultancy based in the UK.

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is the cornerstone of EU efforts to tackle climate change. New rules proposed by the Commission for the period 2013 to 2020 call for 100% auctioning of emissions permits for the EU power sector, after power companies were accused of reaping windfall profits during the first round (2005 to 2007) of the EU ETS, when numerous permits were handed out for free but were nonetheless factored into electricity prices as purchased.

New Carbon Finance argues that since power generators factor in the price of emissions allowances into their operating costs whether obtained for free or purchased at auction, a shift to full auctioning will have little impact on prices. This is particularly true in an environment of increased electricity market liberalisation, according to the report, which examines current and future power market trends in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The proposal to revise the EU ETS is currently the topic of heated debate both within the Parliament and between EU member states. Countries like Poland, which rely on CO2 intensive coal-fired power plants for electricity production, are calling for a continuation of free allowances amid fears that auctioning would double or even triple power prices.

The Commission itself has admitted that the scheme is likely to raise power prices by up to 15%. source

My comment:See? What more can I say?! I agree with that report. People try to find all kind of excuses either to avoid action on making the industry more green, or if it inavoidable-to have even better excuse to raise the prices and earn more.

Industry groups call for binding EU energy efficiency target

24 September 2008

The Commission should propose a binding target o f achieving 20% greater energy efficiency by 2020 as part of EU efforts to maintain the security of its energy supplies , urges a coalition of leading European associations in the energy-efficiency sector.

"Energy efficiency is not an alternative to energy security; it is a vital component in achieving it," argues the Energy Efficiency Industrial Forum in a September position paperPdf . It warns that EU energy imports are predicted to rise from 50% of overall consumption to 70% within the next two decades, making its economy increasingly vulnerable to the strategies of its suppliers.

The Forum recommends that the Commission adopt a mandatory measurable savings target for energy efficiency of 20% of primary energy by 2020. This would come on top of the binding 20% targets for CO2 reduction and renewable energy use proposed in its 23 January climate and energy package. The call for binding measures is widely shared by green groups.

The companies also urge the Commission to establish "co-ordinated Investment and Incentives Initiative for improving energy efficiency across all sectors" and to make a strong commitment to full and timely implementation of existing and future legislation for the sector.

EU member states have also been criticised for being severely behind in implementing energy efficiency legislation, particularly in the buildings sector (EurActiv 07/12/07). source

My comment:Pricesely my point. And it just prooves that smart people still can differ good from bad. Good.

France pushes for leniency on car CO2 caps

1 October 2008

The French Presidency is upping the pressure on EU governments to water down controversial proposals requiring car manufacturers to curb the CO2 emissions of new vehicles by 18% by 2012, according to a document seen by EurActiv.

In February 2007, the Commission proposed binding legislation that would compel vehicle manufacturers to cut the average emissions of new cars from current levels of around 160 grammes of CO2 per kilometre to 130g/km by 2012 by improving vehicle technology. A further 10g/km reduction is expected to come from improvements in other areas, including tyres, fuels and eco-driving.

The new legislation would replace a 1998 voluntary agreement external Pdf external signed with the EU's Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), which committed carmakers to achieving a target of 140g/km by 2008.

Cars account for roughly 12% of all EU carbon dioxide emissions (the main greenhouse gas) and the legislation comes amid EU efforts to combat global warming by achieving a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.

"The French are speeding up the process to reach a deal among member states before the plenary vote in Parliament," Greenpeace transport campaigner Franziska Achterberg told EurActiv, explaining that after last week's vote in the environment committee, Parliament had become "a risky candidate".

Indeed, last week, MEPs in the committee took many by surprise by voting down an "industry-friendly" compromise proposal between the EPP-ED and Socialist groups that would have diluted the Commission's original plans by awarding carmakers a three-year phase-in period, rather than enforcing a strict 2012 deadline (EurActiv 26/09/08).

The phase-in – which would allow carmakers to dispense 40% of their fleet from the 130g/km target in 2012, 30% in 2013 and 20% in 2014, with full compliance only required as of 2015 – was originally proposed by Parliament's industry committee (EurActiv 02/09/08), but is now also being defended in the French draft.

The move will come as a huge relief to carmakers, which have been pushing for the EU to hold off its CO2 policy until 2015, saying it needs "lead-time" to make the "hugely complicated and capital intensive" adjustments to vehicles and engines required to meet the target. The development of new cars takes up to five years, while those that will be on the market in 2012 have already left the drawing board, the industry points out.

France is also seeking reduced fines for offenders that only slightly exceed their targets and wants to hand out extra credits to carmakers if they use innovative ways to produce cleaner cars or if they sell electric and other very low-emission vehicles. It argues that this will act as an incentive to bring these products to market.

France seems open to the long-term goal of 95g/km by 2020 that Parliament's environment committee and many governments have been pushing for.

The French compromise proposal, which largely reflects a backdoor deal reached between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last June (EurActiv 10/06/08), is likely to be put to national representatives next Wednesday (8 October) and would serve as the basis for negotiations between environment ministers later this month.

Greenpeace further highlights the absurdity of calling for "planning security" now, when "EU environment ministers initially called for a target of 120g CO2/km by 2012 as far back as 1994". Average EU car emissions currently stand at 158g/km, and Greenpeace says the loopholes in the French compromise draft would in fact allow manufacturers to maintain emissions at "a staggering 161g CO2/km" as late as 2012. source

My comment: Continuing the previous comment on France-I'm not surprised, but it's sad to see a good idea being ruined by idiots and lobbyist. It's absolute nonsens to continue pushing the final date further and further ahead. In the end, we'll have a 10g/km limit for the year 2300. It's an absurd! We should act now.

MEPs hail ‘defeat’ of car industry lobby on CO2

26 September 2008

Against expectations and despite strong pressure from industry, the Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday (25 September) voted down a compromise proposal that would have diluted EU ambitions to cut cars’ average CO2 emissions.

In a last-minute turnaround, MEPs threw out a compromise achieved last week between the Italian Socialist rapporteur Guido Sacconi and members of Parliament’s Industry Committee that would have given carmakers an extra three years' breathing space to implement carbon dioxide emission reductions.

The recommendation for a compromise came after the Industry Committee voted, on 1 September, to water down Sacconi’s original report, proposing a ‘phase-in’ of the new CO2 rules so that carmakers would only be required to ensure that 60% of their fleet meets the target by 2012, with 70% compliance by 2013, 80% by 2014 and 100% by 2015.

This “industry-friendly EPP-ED and PSE deal” – as termed by leftist MEP Jens Holm – was nevertheless rejected by the Environment Committee, which has the lead on the issue. Instead, it insisted on maintaining Sacconi’s initial recommendation to set an even tougher longer-term target of 95gr/km by 2020.

MEPs also rejected an amendment that would have put a €50 cap on the fines imposed on carmakers for breaching their CO2 limits, backing the Commission proposal to start penalties off at €20 per excess gramme in 2012, raising them to €95 as of 2015. Any revenues would be invested in technological innovations to reduce vehicle emissions.

The Environment Committee also threw out an Industry Committee proposal to allow manufacturers to count certain cars – for example those emitting less than 50g/km or running on alternative fuels – as 'one-and-a-half cars', as well as zero-emissions cars as three cars, thereby bringing their overall average down. It nevertheless supported the idea of handing out special credits for eco-innovations, such as energy-efficient lights, which are currently not included in the normal test cycle. “The credit associated with a technology shall be no higher than 75% of the real-world CO2 reduction,” the text nevertheless stresses.

Those in favour of tough legislation on CO2 to support the EU’s climate change fighting ambitions hailed the vote.

But they could yet face disappointment, as the text must still be approved by the plenary in October or November. source

My comment:Yeah, we already saw that France found a way out of the Parliament vote, so don't worry, the industry will find its way.

Parliament deplores national resistance to sea-safety rules

25 September 2008

A package of legislative measures aimed at protecting Europe from maritime accidents and pollution looks likely to face a special 'last chance' conciliation procedure as the European Parliament yesterday (24 September) refused to give in to national governments' attempts to water down the new rules.

Parliament's main demands include:

  • Making strict International Maritime Organisation (IMO) rules on flag-state obligations compulsory for all member states to ensure that all ships sailing under an EU flag comply with international safety standards. But governments have simply thrown out this proposal, arguing it would generate too many additional costs for their administrations. They insist the issue should continue to be dealt with at IMO level, leaving them a much larger degree of discretion.
  • Strengthened provisions on the liability of ship operators and compensation for damage to third parties in the event of accidents – a move member states are blocking (EurActiv 08/06/08).
  • Tougher ship inspection regimes in ports, including the right to permanently ban substandard ships, while the Council wants bans to be temporary.
  • The designation of an independent authority in each country with sole responsibility for reacting to accidents at sea and the capacity to impose decisions about where ships should be taken in for salvage and repair operations (so-called 'places of refuge'). Member states are particularly opposed to this as they fear it would expose their coastlines and ports to unwelcome financial and environmental risk. They want to retain the capacity to refuse to assist vessels that lack sufficient financial guarantees.

Belgian Liberal MEP Dirk Sterckx, who is parliamentary coordinator of the whole package, stressed: "We need this system if we want to avoid a disaster like Prestige or Erika" oil tankers, which sunk off the French coast spilling tens of thousands of oil into the sea (EurActiv 17/01/08).

He further expressed regret that the EPP-ED group had succeeded in "sinking" a clause that would have extended the safety measures to inland navigation. "It is a pity that the EPP Group did not share this view and considered that travellers on a river or lake do not deserve the same safety as those travelling by sea," he said. source

My comment: A good proposal, let's how far it will go. For me, it's a complete nonsense how member-states are trying to block that regulation since it will put much more security and order into sea transport.

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